I once read that Ernest Hemingway, in the midst of a family quarantine when his young son, Bumby, was ill in the mid-1920s, found his isolation in the South of France, “A splendid place to write.” That Hemingway was sequestered there with wife and mistress at the same time is an incredible anecdote and historically pertinent piece of information for the notoriously male bravado that would go on to mark his most famous works. I start here because, in the midst of the pandemic gripping the world in 2020, just as the Spanish Flu rampaged continents 100 years before, I was looking for art to tell me a story. That I found something rather salacious was not quite what I was after. But something as simple as the act of self-isolation creating something splendid through the hands of an artist feels like a starting point for the Summer 2020 issue: literally, Art in Uncertain Times.

There were many directions to follow with this quarterly. Admittedly, our emotions evolved from day to day, from terror to unease, frustration to just plain (to use the word again) uncertainty. How were friends in Italy? Spain? NYC? Our show was cancelled in Tokyo, so was the gallery team safe? Before we began to tell this overarching story of how the art world was reacting to the pandemic, we wanted to know how daily conditions were, on the ground, for each artist. How were their families, what were the grocery stores like, what did the walk to the studio entail, could they even go to a studio? Consideration of studio practice may seem trivial amid the rest, but it began to shape a narrative of what we lose when robbed of the ability to create. These global reports gave us connection and a bit more resolve in understanding the things that are most important to us. Art informs family, collective history, personal relationships, technology, loneliness, happiness, strife and, occasionally, makes us laugh and cry. For the first time for many of us, this connectivity became a global event, and, through art, we actually began to feel less alone. 

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The Summer 2020 issue claims this interesting fate of starting its process before the pandemic and being completed in the midst of it. Our cover story with Brooklyn-based Kelly Beeman, started in early winter, yet finalized during shelter-in-place, holds raw emotion because, even as we talked, her work vibrated with new meaning. Ideas of domesticity, family, and a sense of almost forced-togetherness that resonate so deeply in any time, and yet right now feel so vital. Our publisher Gwynned Vitello said so eloquently about Beeman’s work that it elicits an “appreciation of each other and of quiet, which is something we are all learning about now.” That feels so powerful in these times, as we long to return to some semblance of certainty,  embracing each other and the arts as a way to cope with so many mixed emotions. This subtle and almost spiritual stillness is felt in the works of Molly Bounds, Calida Rawles, José Parlá and Anna Weyant. It suffused the sailboat of Martin Machado as he traveled through California’s bays and rivers. And as Jess Johnson and Felipe Pantone’s works noisily provoke with their imaginations and imagery, both share the ambition to change the way we consume and view art through technology, in powerful commentary about our own consumption and personal experience with art. These stories emerge from uncertain times, with many evolving as the weeks went by, but we hope the Summer issue is a reminder that something splendid can arise from adversity. —Evan Pricco

Buy a copy of the Summer 2020 Issue here.